Voice recording of MSC Opera captain throws more light on Venice crash

In a recording of the captain of cruise ship MSC Opera (IMO 9250464) prior to its collision with a berth in Venice and tourist vessel River Countess, he can be heard describing an engine fault causing the incident.

Speaking to the harbour master the captain said that two anchors had been dropped but that the engine was locked in thrust and that the anchors were not enough.

“We have activated all possible procedures to avoid impact,” he said.

The captain describes what had been done in an attempt to bring the vessel to a standstill, noting that tugs were put in position to widen the gap between the cruise ship and the deck where River Countess was berthed. He says that at some point cables attached to the tugs had broken.

The head of the tug owner company involved in guiding the ship into its berth, Davide Calderan, confirmed the engine failure and said the captain had reported it immediately. “The engine was blocked, but with its thrust on, because the speed was increasing,” he said. In footage of the incident, the ship’s horn can be heard blaring in an attempt to warn tourists on board the docked river cruise ship ahead of impact.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Venice were investigating several people who they think might have been responsible for the MSC Opera crashing, including the captain and pilot. Given the evidence that has appeared thus far, anyone looking to blame the captain and/or the pilot would appear to be wrong. A number of port officials are also under investigation, although for what reasons is unclear.

MSC Cruises cancelled the reminder of the cruise and offered passengers a full refund. The ship remained docked at the Sant’Elena maritime station in Venice while the investigation continued.

2004-built, Panama-flagged, 65,591 gt MSC Opera is owned by Newco Opera SA care of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co of Geneva, Switzerland. ISM manager is MSC Cruise Management UK Ltd of Uxbridge, UK. It is entered with West Of England Club (Claims Team 2) on behalf of Newco Opera SA. It is entered for H&M with SIAT SpA on behalf of MSC Cruise SA, with Gard having a subscription position.